Open Hearts, Open Pocketbooks

November 1, 2013

Below is a piece from Charlotte Couchon, mother-in-law of NFT patient Bob Glynn. We're so appreciative that she was thoughtful enough to share this with us to show how much joy she has received from assisting in his fundraising campaign.

Will you give me a donation? How do you respond to a question like this? Do you shake your head 'no'? Do you hesitate until you have more facts? Do you open your heart and pocketbook freely? In different situations and at different times, I have answered in all of these ways. What is even harder for me than giving, is asking, and I admit I am close to being called a tight-wad when parting with my money. Actually I prefer the word thrifty.

My view of donating changed 180 degrees, when our son-in-law asked my husband and me to be part of his fund raising group. Bob Glynn, our daughter Janet's husband, has IPF or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He has been on oxygen constantly, either carrying on his back a tank of oxygen that lasts 2 hours when he wants to go anywhere or being hooked up to a 50 foot long plastic tube that extends throughout his house when he is at home. He needs a lung transplant. Bob and Janet ask us to help raise money for NFT and how could we say "no".

NFT is the National Foundation for Transplants and has a website. Bob's picture and an update of donations, and people who have donated are listed there. Money donated to NFT under Bob's name will be held for him to be used by the family for things like prescriptions and travel to and from the hospital. Bob does have insurance but the operation will cost $550,000 and the NFT suggests raising 10 to 15 per-cent of that amount to cover the additional expenses. If by chance, Bob dies, the money raised will be available for other transplant recipients from Connecticut.

Where do you start to raise money?? My husband and I came up with the idea of pledging for pounds lost. Bob was overweight and to get on the 'list' the doctors want him to be at a certain weight. For the pledges we set a time frame of 3 months as an encouragement for Bob so every pound lost turned into money raised. Now it comes down who do we ask. Phil e-mailed everyone on our e-mail list. Truly, I was embarrassed he did this. The response was over-whelming. Most people pledged a dollar a pound, but we had 3 dollar pledges and even a couple 5 dollar pledges. After losing 19 pounds in the three month period, the money started to flow in. Flatbreads in Canton gave part of their one evening proceeds to Bob. The kids in Canton school held a bake sale. Cans and bottles were collected by the church.

I have 2 touching stories about people who gave money for Bob. My husband, Phil, was talking to his sister, Teresa, on Skype. When she asked what he had been doing lately, Phil told her about the fund-raising. Now, his sister lives on Social Security, in subsidized housing and qualifies for food stamps. She said, "Put me down for a dollar a pound," This is truly a modern version of the "Widow's Mite." As if that was not already a wonderful gesture, before playing cards which she loves to do, she related Bob's story to her card group. When she went for a glass of water in the kitchen, a lady from her group handed her $50. and said, "This is for Bob." All these women have the same financial situation. It made me cry to think someone who didn't even know Bob and didn't have much herself, would give so much for him. That was one year ago today.

A more recent story came about because of our fund-raising efforts. Bob was asked by Presbyterian Hospital in New York City to give a talk about fund raising. They had seen how our efforts had paid off and were impressed. Bob invited us, my husband and myself, to accompany him to NY and hear him speak. He brought along a poster his daughter had made. On the poster were different pictures of Bob and his family celebrating good times, birthdays, graduations. Pictures of Bob with his mom and with Janet and with his kids, Molly, Ryan and Jen. Driving to and through NY is torture for a country girl like me, but we wanted to support Bob in his effort. After the talk, we were getting ready to go home. Janet went to pay the valet, Phil was helping Bob change his tank and I was holding the poster. Two women were waiting on benches in the expansive hospital foyer and I smiled at them. One lady told me she had just received some wonderful news about how her husband had had a brain tumor and now the doctors couldn't find anything. There was another lady sitting there quietly listening to us, watching, and looking at the poster. When everyone was gathered and ready to go, the quiet lady put $10 in my hand. Just writing this makes me have tears in my eyes. What more can I say.

We started our group one year ago this month, and to date have raised around $53,000. That amounts to $1000 a week. I find this amazing.

Raising funds has been about more than raising money. It has been an awareness raising for me. These gifts to Bob are a renewal of my faith in people and their generosity.